4.30.2011

Little Moments

Yesterday while the boys & I were headed to the car from Fred Meyer, where we had a delicious snack of donuts & organic apple juice (gotta counteract all that mapley-sugar with something a little more "natural"), we traipsed through the parking lot when the man in the couple behind us started laughing.
Jack said, "Mom, is he cracking up?" 
I said, "Yes, he is." 
Then Jack asked, "What's he cracking up for?"
And all day we talked about the man in the parking lot, cracking up, for no apparent reason.
Adorable.
---
This morning as I dozed on the couch (--Don't judge me!!! I am 34 weeks pregnant & sick... Sleep is a long lost friend) I awoke to find the boys playing monster trucks in the kitchen.  The way they interacted and echoed each others' sound effects warmed my very heart.
---
Yesterday our boys were not so in sync... 
Jack had been in trouble for telling me no, and I was telling Josh about it on the drive home from my mom's. When Jack overheard me he asked, "Watcha talking about, mom?" So I reminded him and then Logan piped in saying, "Don't you ever say no to mommy, Jack." (Like he doesn't do it twice as often...) 
Jack turned to him, daggers in his eyes and said, "Logan, don't tell me something! You're not the boss. I don't want to talk about this with you." 
I kid you not. 
That is exactly what he said. 
Josh and I turned to look at each other and couldn't help but smirk.  
What a smarty pants.
---
I look at them, thinking of the baby I am going to be giving birth to in six short weeks, and wonder, "How did it go so fast? When did they get so big?"
Their third birthday is in a month.
They are big boys. They feed themselves, go potty by themselves, can (mostly) dress themselves. They are getting so much better at sharing, taking turns and listening to each other.  
I find myself staring at them, searching desperately for some sign of their baby-hood, and find nothing--
Their legs are long and lean.
Their faces are no longer round & chubby.
Their fingers are strong & capable.
They can ask specifically for what they want, have entire conversations (in person or over the phone) and know their names, birth date and age... It's just amazing when I sit back & reflect on all they have learned, all they have become, in the last year.
Soon instead of two 2-year-olds, I will have three children 3 and under. 
I sure hope I am up for the challenge.
Especially once Josh leaves.
---
Beside searching for my long lost baby twins in my now pre-school age children, I have been spending a lot of time thinking about this journey we are about to embark on. 
I imagine falling asleep alone in my bed, with a baby in the bassinette to my right, and my big boys tucked in their beds next door... I imagine grocery shopping with three small children, in the rain, by myself... I imagine dropping Josh off at the airport...  
I think of all that he does around here, logistically- the garbage, the cars, anything technological, the grocery shopping, most of the cooking.  Then I think about what he does as my husband, the support he offers me, the back rubs, the hugs when I am losing my mind or sobbing hysterically...
We told the boys a few days ago that Daddy got a new work and would be going to Alaska for a long time without us in a few months. Jack turned to me, looked straight in my eyes and said, "What are going to do, mom?"
What are we going to do?
---
Everyone around us has been so supportive. All my past co-workers (whom I went to visit last week), our families, our friends, and all of you blog followers, have assured me that we have what it takes to make it. That raising our three kids alone for a while will be a challenge for me, but one doesn't realize how strong one is until you have to be that strong.  Everyone has assured me that I will make friends easily and the boys will adjust faster & better than I imagine.
So when I can, I try to think of those bits of encouragement, put the future out of my mind, and just enjoy the "right now".  Enjoy having my family here, together.  Enjoy my big boys.  Enjoy Wyatt wiggling in my belly. 
Enjoy the little moments that are all around me.


4.26.2011

Daddy

The last few days have been a whirlwind of emotions for me.  I am so proud of Josh for not giving up on his dream and getting a teaching position; I am so scared of being here without him for five months with the three boys (August to December) while we wait for housing to be completed; and I am heartbroken at the mere idea of my boys missing him even half as much as I know I will miss him.


The one thing that gives me strength and brings me hope?  
All of you military wives I know.  


And so many more women who I may or may not know personally.

You have all been through this. And for way longer amounts of time. Missing not only your husband, but the father of your children.  Dealing not only with your own emotions, but those of your children who are too young to understand why Daddy has to leave. Thinking of you and how beautifully I have seen you deal with deployment gives me hope that I can survive (and even thrive) in those few short months without Josh.

{Oh, and ladies, any advice about how to best prepare the boys for this would be welcome!!!}

-----

We've started watching Flying Wild Alaska per Roxanne's recommendation, and I am so glad we are.  It is not only entertaining, it is a clear picture for me of just what I'm getting into.  (For those of you who watch it, Bethel would be our main hub- where our mail and supplies would come from after being shipped from Anchorage.)  Watching this has helped answer some questions I have about life up North.

---

So that's where we're at.  
Living it up these last few months while we still have Josh at home, and trying to enjoy the last bit of being pregnant before life really gets crazy!!! 

4.23.2011

Alaska, Here We Come...

Yesterday Josh got not one but two calls from a rural school district in Southwest Alaska.  The first position was in a village called Russian Mission, Alaska.  The position was for a first/second grade split.  The second position is the one we had in mind when we interviewed with the Lower Yukon School District representatives at the job fair in Seattle last weekend.  It is in a village called Marshall, Alaska.  The position is for a fifth/sixth grade split.  We talked it through, made a list of pros and cons for each position, and in the end decided to go with Marshall.

We got home from playing at the park with the kids and Josh called the HR Director to let him know his decision.  I was outside playing in the front yard with the boys so he could talk in peace and all I saw through the window was a lot of excited fist pumping and a huge smile.  As soon as he hung up he flew out the door to hug me and said, "I'm a teacher!"  
What a moment!

The red star on this map pinpoints where Marshall Alaska is.  It is located on the Yukon River and is roughly 400 miles west of Anchorage.  The nearest "big" village (with 6,000 residents) is Bethel, which is also where the nearest hospital is located.


Marshall has a brand new school (just opened this past September), includes a free laptop and camera for every new teacher, is a Title I School (which means if Josh were to teach there for four years, he could have ALL of his student loans forgiven) and pays 100% of health insurance costs.  Housing comes pre-furnished and expenses are subsidized by the district and include utilities.  Also, after we have lived there a year, we will qualify for the Alaska Oil Dividends, which last year was roughly $3500 per person in your family.  It is a small village, roughly 400 people, with only a school, post office & small store, and there are no vehicles necessary- everyone walks everywhere.  The majority of residents are native Alaskans who subsist on moose, salmon & berries.

Right now the plan is for Josh to leave for Alaska the first week of August- school starts on August 8th, our eight year wedding anniversary- and stay in the single teacher housing until our new unit is completed. The projected completion date is October 1.  The more realistic date is mid-December. So I will stay here with the kids until Josh flies home over Christmas break to move us up North with him.

We have three months left together, then I will have roughly five months here in Vancouver without Josh, and roughly five months up in Marshall without everyone else- school ends mid May.

"I'm 98% excited, 2% scared... 
Or maybe it's the other way around... 
But that's what make it so intense!" 
-Oscar
(Armageddon)

4.19.2011

Taking Chances

Sunday evening we got back to my parents house from Seattle to pick up the kids.  We were excited to share with our family how the job fair went, and see the kids, whom I missed something terrible.
I decided since we were both dressed so fancy (which is rare) we should have my sister snap some pics of us.  (I'm exactly 32 weeks in these.)
 You'll notice we have smiles on our faces. That is because things at the job fair went very well.  We didn't get any job offers, but Josh did have two formal interviews (both for positions in rural Alaska, or "the bush"), and he touched base with the Special Ed recruiter for Anchorage, who is looking for a Deaf/Hard of Hearing teacher.

I, of course, am hoping the job in Anchorage pans out because it would be hard enough to leave my family and friends, let alone to be heading to a village of 200-400 people with only a school and a post office. At least in Anchorage there is a Target and YMCA. 
But I hope for Josh's sake that his lack of a Deaf Education degree forces them to turn him down, because while he has enjoyed working with Deaf students in the past, his passion is truly in a general ed classroom.

One of the other districts that expressed interest in him is right inside the Arctic Circle.  They are looking for a kindergarten or first grade teacher.  I spoke to one of their representatives myself and asked about having small children up there.  She said she herself had three children. You just throw them on the back of the snowmobile or ATV and get on your way.  She said it doesn't get that cold, only occasionally dips to 40 or 50 below...  But the kids go outside for recess everyday except in extreme conditions. (I think her definition of extreme differs a bit from mine!)

The district that had a position that looked most promising is in Southwest Alaska.  They  have a sixth grade position open at a brand new school in a village called Marshall.  The position has its perks- laptop & camera for every new teacher, Title I Loan Forgiveness (if you have government loans from college, they can be forgiven after teaching for a specific number of years at a low income school), subsidized housing costs and 100% health insurance costs paid.  Marshall has 398 citizens.  It is small enough that most residents don't own any kind of vehicle, they just walk.  They have a health clinic, or can fly you to Bethel to the hospital if need be.  There is phone, cable and internet access.

There are three things I like about the Marshall job. One is all the perks I mentioned , the second is that the open position is a grade level Josh would love to teach (plus a class size of 15!), and the last is that the housing for our family would not be complete until October 2011 at the soonest. (More realistically December 2011.)  So Josh would fly up in August, stay in their single housing, and get a feel for the village. Come December, he would fly back home to either get the kids & I and move us up; or visit and leave us behind again until May when the school year ends, depending on whether he felt (based on his few months spent up there) our family should make the move or not.

It terrifies me to think of moving our family to Alaska, but it equally terrifies me to think of parenting these boys and taking care of this new baby without Josh here.

And as scary as those options are- moving away, perhaps to a village, in the dark, in the snow, or raising three sons by myself- the even scarier thing is if he isn't offered a job. If he can't find work. If he can't provide for our family like he wants to and has wanted to for so long.  That's what really freaks us out.

Meanwhile, I am spending large portions of my day in prayer, lifting our family and our future into His capable hands, and waiting with breath that is bated for a response from one of these three districts.

"What do you say to taking chances?
What do you say to jumping off the edge?
Never knowing if there’s solid ground below?
Or a hand to hold, or hell to pay??? 
What do you say?"
{"Taking Chances" Celine Dion}

Girlfriends' Baby Shower

My lovely little sister put together a very casual baby shower for my girlfriends and I at Ice Cream Renaissance (best ice cream in Vancouver, perhaps even in Washington state!)
It was super small- just six of us- which allowed lots of time for baby talk and getting to really visit, which I loved.  I think we all had a great time!

Opening gifts- A Hanna Andersson knit hat for Wyatt from my mom. I love it!

And a special "Mother's Day" gift for me-
a new DKNY watch.
Love it!

Teeny, tiny hat & mittens for baby from Annie.
So sweet!

Adorable sleeveless summer outfit from my sister.

31 weeks, 6 days
(but who's counting???)

{Annie, Shelly, Heather & Rachel}

{Annie & Shelly}
I met Annie about two years ago at Winco. I was grocery shopping with Logan in a baby backpack and Jack in the cart. Annie finished her shopping & then came to help me pack my groceries and helped me out to the car.  She is the kindest, most giving girl I know.  Her son, Thorin, is just two weeks younger than my boys and the three of them always have a ball together.  Above all, though, I just enjoy her company.

{Shelly & Heather}
I met Heather at Wy'East Junior High School when I was in eighth grade and she was in ninth grade. We were in the most awesome Concert Choir group in the entire Northwest. (I'm not exaggerating, we actually won a contest called Best In The Northwest back in 1997.)  She was always sweet and funny and a very talented singer.  We met up again about six months ago when I heard through a friend on Facebook that Heather, too, had given birth to twins.  Her girls, Alyssa and Isabella are about eight months younger than my guys. It has been priceless for us to have someone else to turn to who completely understands the unique challenges that raising twins presents. Heather is always sympathetic and real with me, which I love.

{Shelly & Rachel}
Rachel & I know each other from Sign Language class in High School.  We met up again on Facebook (gotta love that social networking) and have had a few playdates with our kiddos. She has Landon, 3, and Cameron, 1.  The boys love Landon and call him "my fwend Landy" which just cracks me up.  Rachel is another stay at home mommy who totally loves her kids and gets how much work it is to do this job well. 

I feel so lucky to have so many good friends!

{Shelly & Roxanne}
In this picture I am nearly 32 weeks pregnant and Roxanne is 16 weeks exactly. We'll only be pregnant together for about 8 more weeks, and our babes will be roughly four months apart. I can't wait to find out what she's having, but she's not finding out so I have to keep waiting...  But I think it's a boy!

{Shelly & Marilynn}
My mom is so excited for Wyatt's arrival, she can hardly stand it!  And as bad as she wants a granddaughter (no pressure, Roxanne!), she does think it would be pretty cool to have SIX GRANDSONS!

Thank you, girls, for a great afternoon
of being spoiled
& enjoying good company!

4.16.2011

prayers

 
 This afternoon Josh & I will be leaving for a job fair in Seattle.
The job fair will have representatives from every school district in Alaska.
 
 
While I am terrified of leaving Washington state and everything I have known for the last 28 years, I also know that with two {soon to be three} children it is imperative that Josh find full time work for the 2011-2012 school year. I also know that with budget cuts at an all time high in education, the odds of him finding a job in this area are slim to none.
And so to the job fair we will go, with prayers to be lead in the right direction, and to make the right choice for our family.  I am hoping for a job in Anchorage, so that life will still look somewhat like it does here... but we'll see what God has in store.
 
 
Good thoughts, well wishes & prayers on our behalf are welcome.
We'll keep you posted.

4.15.2011

Two

My two sons have decided that they want to spend the last two months of their second year enjoying the throes of the Terrible Two's, making their two parents twice as crazy as they were to begin with.

{deep breath}


Rules that my children have known since before they could talk are up for debate, fodder for tantrums and ultimately the perfect reason to lose it at any point in time.  And it's not just rules at my house. It's rules in the car, rules at my mom's, rules at the store...


 An illustration of what I mean:
The boys know that they are not to go into the street when we ride bikes in the driveway.  Occasionally I will use a big piece of sidewalk chalk to delineate where they are allowed and where they are NOT allowed.  Last week when I did this? Jack marched his Croc-footed piggies straight to that chalk line and proceeded to walk it like a tight rope.

These two know exactly where the boundaries are (both literally and figuratively) and they have been skirting them for the last week.


 Yesterday was the final straw.  We were at a friends house playing with her six year old and the boys were just not listening.  Jack had three huge tantrums, complete with spitting and when it was time to go, Logan opened the door before I was ready, and Jack escaped, running down the stairs and onto the sidewalk where he continued running away until I screamed his name so loudly my throat hurt and he decided he best turn around.

We finally got home (after much embarrassment on my part) and it still didn't stop.  They were hitting, throwing toys and flat out refusing to do anything we asked of them.  I was about to blow a gasket.


Thank God Josh was home and saw, too, that they were out of control. Logan was sent to his room and Jack to the corner while Josh & I had a pow-wow.  It was time to get serious about this parenting stuff.

 We decided to go back to Time Outs, which we had let slide as the boys have gotten older. Rules? Naughty kid in the corner, on his bottom.  Timer set for three minutes, no standing or talking until it beeps.

Jack had to sit in timeout for almost ten minutes the first time because we kept having to start it over.  Today I started it over twice when there was only fifteen seconds left because he wasn't following the rules.


These boys require the most exhausting kind of consistency from us as parents. If we allow them to hit their brother just once and get away with it, they do it more often. If we allow them chance after chance to listen & follow directions, they will wait until I am reaching the end of my rope to finally listen.

So we are cracking down:
No hitting. 
No throwing toys. 
No rude talking. 
No outright refusal to do what is asked of them. 
And no flexibility on listening: 
Listen the first time, or pay the price with a trip to Time Out.

It's Zero Tolerance, people.


I am only at nap time of Day One and I'm pooped!

But they are worth it.  And I know the ultimate outcome will be children who are safe, respectful, kind and good listeners.  But in the meantime, I'm going to need some extra rations of patience!

4.12.2011

Rockaway Beach

 Today Josh didn't have a sub job, and the weather looked clear, so we packed up the car and headed to Rockaway to visit the beach and my grandparents...
 After lunch at the Cow Belle, our favorite restaurant, where the boys had pancakes, eggs & bacon, we ran off those extra calories down in the sand.

 It was clear & beautiful, but windy, so the boys and I were all bundled up.

 I was amazed while packing this morning how little we actually need for the boys anymore. We used to need two playpens, two high chairs, tons of food, baby silverware, bibs, the stroller, extra clothes, diapers, wipes... The list goes on.

 This time we had a bag with extra clothes & jammies for the drive home; a bag of toys; big coats and a lunchbox with yogurt & cheese sticks & water bottles. No booster seats, no stroller, no playpens.

 They are just big boys.

 And I am so enjoying it.

 And these big boys were overjoyed (!!!) to see their Grandma Woo Woo.
Especially Logan.

 "Look at me, Woo Woo!"

 "Can we get ice cream, Woo Woo?"

 Peek-a-boo, Jack!

 Peek-a-boo, Logan!

 The boys & their favorite lady!
I love how they are holding her hands.
{So sweet!}

After playing all morning at the beach, the boys & I took a nap at Grandma's house. Then we played at the park and went for ice cream.

And after ice cream we drove out to the jetty.
Can you spot Logan in the shot above?

Both boys kept following the birds saying, "Hiiii..." in these high pitch baby voices, as though they hoped the birds would let them hold 'em for just a minute.


I am so happy with the pictures I got today of the boys.  They recently killed my camera (not sure how... they are magical that way) and so we've switched to a back-up camera that Josh had on hand.  I am pleased to say it is easy to use and the shots turned out clear and quite comparable to our more "fancy" camera.